work and careers
Ever have a really interesting idea at work or in the world, share it, and notice that you don’t get much of a response? Either because people just don’t seem excited about it or say they don’t understand it? And then a dude, maybe someone you know or don’t know, maybe someone who came up with the same idea, or someone who is intentionally trying to support you, shares this same idea and everyone responds enthusiastically? Yeah, me too. Weird, right?!
“How many of you think you have to be seen by men before you can be seen?”
Nilofer Merchant asked this question at a fantastic conversation/salon I attended in New York earlier this year led by Merchant and Ellen McGirt. The topic was women, work, and visibility—and the concept of “onlyness”—our unique contribution as women and as individuals, in the workplace and in the world.
Given the state of the world and our institutions, what work (paid or unpaid) do we really want to be doing? As individuals and women leaders, what work are we uniquely well-suited to do? What contribution can we make and do we want to make? I’m reminded of a line from Margaret Wheatley, “The leaders we need are already here.”
Everywhere I look women are redefining what work is, how it functions, and how work can support other areas of our lives rather than detract from them or cause harm. The same is true for money.
It isn’t that career ladders don’t exist anymore or aren’t useful. We’re just beginning to pay attention to how well those ladders are made, who’s making them and why, and whether or not we even need a ladder to get where we’re going.
Real leadership means making good choices for ourselves, big or small, on a daily basis and over time about how we live in the world. Choices that we can believe in, that feel authentic and true for us as women and creative people; choices that often go against the grain and feel difficult; and choices that as much as possible, sustain us individually as we seek to do good work in the world.
There are two ways to look toward the future of work: What might the world need from us in terms of the companies we build or work we do? And to what degree are we prepared to navigate industries and work environments that are changing fast whether we like it or not?